29 March 2009

A video from the AFTH, summer '07


Here is a video produced by a member of the team at the hospital in Iraq.


The author is Matt Blonde, a respiratory therapist and member of the critical care air transport team.

I think the video is incredible because it shows the journey into and back out of the hospital, step by step for an injured troop. What is amazing to see is how many different dedicated people have a hand in the care of each and every patient.

I wasn't at the hospital when this was shot; I arrived shortly after when the tent hospital was closed and the steel hospital was up and running, but I recognize many colleagues.

If you are interested, hope you appreciate the perspective.

26 March 2009

Pictures of my drive shaft

Sorry, I just couldn't resist putting this up!

Last night (until 0200!) I spent a couple of hours under my Jeep installing a new drive shaft. It isn't what I usually blog about, but I put up a step by step of my install here:


That forum is a jeep discussion board where I have learned a lot about how to keep my new all-consuming habit of Jeeping going.

Here is a pic of the new drive shaft:

front drive shaft

and if you can't see it above, the address is here:


That's a neat picture because you can see the big rolling trunk I took to Iraq twice in front of the Jeep.

Anyway, the step by step install has lots of interesting details, if that sort of thing interests you. If you know much about vehicles, you will quickly see that I am a rank amateur, but that doesn't stop me!

I think it is part of the psyche of a surgeon to believe that he or she can do anything better than anyone else! Why else would we dare to cut a person open? If we believed that someone else could do it better, it is just a matter of conscience: we shouldn't do the operation; we should call it off and get the best to do it.

Unfortunately, that necessary confidence spills over into other areas with out justification, and surgeons often believe they can do anything! That is why you see surgeons crashing $200,000 sailboats, falling off of rock faces, losing money in the stock market, and going down in flames at karate dojos.

I am no different, and I half expect something to fall off my Jeep at any moment as I drive down the highway. In fact, it does trouble me that I had a few extra parts left over when I finished my drive shaft install.

Before I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon, long, long, ago, I wanted to be an engineer. But then high school geometry turned out to be more frustrating than high school biology. I have still kept that love of building things. (And deconstructing them as my parents can attest, after losing a TV and a vacuum cleaner to my curiosity.)

Now the most fun of all is that I can share this love of building things with my sons. We have built rockets, potato cannons, and all sorts of modifications for the Jeep together.

February was a hard month. As March passes by, I have found that time and a little grease on my hands has helped to cleanse the doubts and worries from my mind.

21 March 2009

Come Back Home

I want to share with you a very stirring song that was sent to me recently.

It is "Come Back Home" by Pat McGee.


Pat McGee heads up the Pat McGee Band from Richmond.


Like so many Americans, Pat has been personally affected by the war. Last March his friend and drummer's brother Blake Williams was killed in Iraq when his HMMWV was struck by an IED.


Blake was on a return deployment to Iraq. He was 26 years old at the time of his death.

His loss inspired Pat to write "Come Back Home", and it was used at a memorial service by Blake's unit as they honored the memory of the brothers they lost.

Please check out Pat's song set to a slide show,


and this spring he is playing up and down the east coast so you can see him in person.


06 March 2009

Beautiful watercolors for Soldiers' Angels

I received a wonderful email from a friend the other day. She is an artist from Oklahoma, and we met through my blog while I was deployed.

She participates in Soldiers' Angels


They are an organization with a mind-boggling array of different volunteer services for deployed troops from care packages of baked goodies to specialized laptops for wounded veterans. I guarantee you that you will be amazed by some of the things they do.

While I was in Balad, I saw their work in action. Wounded warriors would receive a backpack with comfortable clothing for the trip home and some comfort items like a Dopp kit and a travel mug. It made a difference for these men and women who either had only dirty uniforms, or no clothing if we had cut it off of them.

My friend who is an artist paints cards for Soldiers' Angels. I haven't seen the other entries being considered for this year's cards, but her watercolors are very beautiful. You can see some here on her blog: just scroll down a bit to the 3 MAR entry.


She interpreted one of my photographs, I think it is this one:

And here is her painting:


I think it is just wonderful and really captures the gentleness of the provider. The photograph (and I'm not positive it is the one she used!) is of my friend M. as he prepared to operate on a little girl who had a bullet lodged at the base of her skull that had damaged her carotid artery. I think the painting evokes perfectly the kindness and compassion of my friend who went out of his way to help this little girl.

So I hope that this painting is one of the entries that gets included in the next bunch of Soldiers' Angels greeting cards!

Take care, be mello, and have fun!